The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) welcomed the recognition by the National Drugs Strategy Steering Committee of the impact that criminal convictions can have on rehabilitation and access to housing, education, work and travel.
IPRT particularly welcomes proposals to establish a working group to examine decriminalisation of minor drug possession, and the recommendation that existing spent convictions legislation should be reviewed in future. IPRT further welcomes the clear statement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. that treating substance abuse and addictions as a public health issue “reduces crime because it rebuilds lives”.
IPRT was responding to the publication on Monday, 17th July 2017 of the National Drugs Strategy “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025”.
Fíona Ní Chinnéide, IPRT’s Acting Executive Director, was quoted in the article in Irish Legal News on 18th July 2017 as saying that:
“Substance misuse causes great harm to families and communities, but punishing addictions has not worked.
“A significant majority of people in Ireland’s prisons have addictions, at great cost to the State. Investment in prevention, intervention and drug treatment services in the community will lead to better outcomes for society, less crime and fewer people in prison.
“The report recognises the negative impact that criminal convictions can have on rehabilitation. It is important that the working group on decriminalisation of minor drug possession reports within the timeline of 12 months. IPRT calls for the recommended review of spent convictions legislation to take place within that same timeline.
“Wider spent convictions legislation will support rehabilitation, and allow people who have worked hard to overcome addictions or offending behaviour move on with their lives.”